CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Towering over Southern Illinois figuratively and literally, 17th-ranked Creighton easily snapped its two-game losing streak Sunday night.
National Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott's game-high 21 points led a balanced attack as the Bluejays routed the struggling Salukis 81-51 in a Missouri Valley Conference mismatch at SIU Arena.
Grant Gibbs added 13 points for Creighton (18-3, 7-2), while Jahenns Manigat, Gregory Echenique and reserve forward Ethan Wragge each scored 12 points. The Bluejays converted 63 percent of their field-goal attempts, making a scalding 12 of 20 shots from 3-point range, and they boasted a 40-24 rebounding advantage.
Wyoming transfer Desmar Jackson scored 16 points for SIU (8-12, 1-8), which has lost nine of its past 10 games. Jeff Early, the team's second-leading scorer at 12.7 points per game and its leading rebounder at 7.5, was suspended for the game after being tossed from Wednesday night's 58-45 loss at Northern Iowa for a flagrant-2 foul.
Early's presence probably wouldn't have mattered much from a win-loss standpoint, but it might have made this one a bit more competitive. As it was, Creighton got a much-needed breather after consecutive losses to No. 20 Wichita State and Drake, allowing it to stay within a game of Wichita State in the MVC standings.
After turning the ball over four times in its first six possessions, Creighton began exploiting its vast height and size advantage against Southern Illinois, which started no one taller than 6-foot-5 and played a five-guard lineup at one point in the first half.
The Bluejays went on a 13-2 run to open up a 24-12 advantage with 9:46 left in the half. Aside from a 3-pointer by Manigat, every other score was on a layup or from the foul line. Creighton then scored on eight of nine possessions to establish a 43-25 halftime lead.
Jackson scored the Salukis' first 10 points, but he cooled off and added just two more over the half's remainder. Only four players scored for SIU in the opening half.
NOTES: Creighton is the first ranked team to visit SIU Arena since No. 14 Drake lost on Feb. 13, 2008. Southern Illinois has lost its past nine matchups against Top 25 opponents. ... Bluejays center Gregory Echenique is the only active Division I player with more than 1,100 points, 850 rebounds and 230 blocked shots ... Part of the Salukis' problem in conference games has been first-shot defense. MVC opponents entered Sunday night's game canning 49.2 percent of their field-goal attempts.